Addressing the Trauma of Early Pregnancy Complications - Doctor performing an ultrasound

Addressing the trauma of early pregnancy complications

Complications in early pregnancy, including miscarriage, can be among the most traumatic life events for women and their families. It isn’t often discussed, and many women don’t receive the compassionate care and support they need.

That’s why we’re shining a spotlight on women’s health. We’re looking at the innovative research studies that will be funded through the North York General Hospital Women’s Health Innovation Fund – a dedicated grant program made possible through a partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart. Funds were generously donated through the Shoppers LOVE. YOU. Growing Women’s Health campaign and the in-store Holiday Beauty Gala.

In one of three studies selected to receive funding in 2019, Dr. Katie Dainty, Research Chair, Patient-Centred Outcomes at North York General and Dr. Catherine Varner, an Emergency Physician from Mount Sinai Hospital, are investigating how going to the Emergency Department for early pregnancy complications can affect women and their families.

Emergency care

Women in the early stages of pregnancy often seek care in the emergency department. We estimate roughly 5,000 patient visits each year at our hospital’s emergency department for early pregnancy complications (within the first trimester). At this point in a pregnancy, most women haven’t yet established a relationship with an obstetrician. The emergency department is set up to handle the immediate emergency but may not be structured to provide the ongoing compassionate care and emotional support needed during this very sensitive time.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after a very stressful, frightening or distressing event, or a prolonged traumatic experience. Researchers are becoming more acutely aware that a miscarriage can trigger PTSD. Supportive care may be an important factor in reducing the risk of PTSD or other psychological conditions.

Closing knowledge gaps

One approach that Dr. Dainty is investigating is urgent follow-up care in early pregnancy clinics. Dainty, Varner and a team from North York General will explore the lived experiences and perceptions of women treated in the emergency department versus an early pregnancy clinic. This will help her understand some of the gaps in our current understanding of how each setting may or may not meet patients’ needs and expectations. She will also speak with patients to get their suggestions on ways to lessen the impact of this traumatic event on women and their families.

Results from this study will be available in April 2020. They will directly inform improvements in care at North York General and hopefully improve mental health outcomes for women after the loss of a pregnancy.

Thank you

We’re grateful to Shoppers Drug Mart, 20 of its Pharmacist Owners and their Store Teams for partnering with us in support of North York General and women’s health. To date, Shoppers has raised almost $700,000 for North York General and $49,579 through the 2018 Growing Women’s Health campaign alone.

At North York General, we rely on community donations to fund applied research and innovation — tackling real-world problems that patients and their families face every day. You can play an active role by funding critical research and innovation that will change the course of health care for people in our community and beyond.